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I have a fairly new laptop that came with Windows 8.1 and has a Realtek USB 2.0 SD card reader. After installing Windows 10 on it, at some point the SD card reader would show me the contents of the SD card, but then when I’d try to open files on the card it would randomly drop the card as if I had pulled it out and put it right back in. I thought it might be a dirty or loose connection in the SD card slot, but I blew the slot out and nothing changed. The card was a brand new card that was unboxed an hour earlier. The computer is only a year old and the card reader had rarely been used. Because this random card connection failure was very specific, I decided that the problem could be in software rather than hardware. I also knew of a couple of other people who had similar SD card problems after moving to Windows 10.

Here’s how I fixed the problem. I went to the manufacturer’s support site and downloaded the original Windows 8.1 driver for the Realtek USB SD card reader (Windows 10 can install drivers from Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1 in most cases). I extracted the ZIP file (because that’s how they packaged it, obviously!) I opened Device Manager, found the card reader under Universal Serial Bus controllers, right-clicked and chose to update the driver. Instead of having Windows do the work for me, I said to “browse my computer for driver software” and to “let me pick from a list of drivers.” I clicked “Have disk…” and pointed it to the extracted folder where the driver was stored. The hard part is that you can’t just point it at the extracted folder itself; you must point it at the folder where the driver’s INF file(s) happen to be, which was actually a subfolder called “DrvBin64” for the Realtek card reader’s 64-bit Windows driver. From there it was just a matter of clicking “next” until the driver was installed.

To make sure Windows 10 didn’t auto-update the driver back to the bad version, I had to open the System control panel (right-click the Start button for a quick shortcut there), click “advanced system settings” on the left, click the “hardware” tab, and change the device installation settings to NOT install drivers automatically from Windows Update.

I can’t guarantee this will fix your SD card issues on Windows 10, but if it worked for me then it’s definitely worth a shot! Windows 10’s generic device drivers don’t always work 100% correctly with the hardware they support, but fortunately you have the option to force it to use the original driver that is known to work.

If this helped you (or didn’t help you) let everyone know in the comments below! Be sure to include your computer’s make and model number!

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